402 Attachment & Involvement


Research by Brown, G. L., Mangelsdorf, S. C., Shigeto, A., & Wong, M. S. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, M.S

Children feel loved and thrive when they can depend upon their parents’ fulfilling their needs and loving them. The more adult interactions, the more advanced the child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development and attachment.  How do busy fathers interact with children to help them feel secure and attached?

Psychologists studied the association between father’s involvement and father-child attachment security, and the child feeling safe. Also, they studied how father’s play or caregiving interactions with their child impacted the father-child attachment comparing workdays vs. non-workdays.

Eighty father and three-year-old child pairs participated in this study. Each father filled a time diary interview to indicate their involvement.  After reviewing a video of the father-child interaction, researchers rated the child/fathers’ attachment.

Results? On workdays, fathers who engaged in caregiving had more secure attachments with their children than those who engaged in play. On non-workdays fathers engaged   in play had more secure attachments.  

Perhaps those fathers on workdays who were responsive to their child’s needs through caregiving, established closer attachment.  However, fathers who tried to play with their child were not as responsive, to the child’s needs in the restricted time they had together. Fathers! The key to building secure attachments with your children is being flexible in how you interact with your child depending on the time and circumstances. There is a time and a place for caregiving and for play.


Brown, G. L., Mangelsdorf, S. C., Shigeto, A., & Wong, M. S. (2018). Associations between father involvement and father-child attachment security: Variations based on timing and type of involvement. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(8), 1015-1024


About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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